Blu-ray vs. HD: Whose side are you on?

Johnny_l_2Actually, the battle over which new high-definition DVD format will earn your gift-buying dollars this holiday season may already be over. Which is why Disney’s Magical Blu-ray Tour, the studio’s whistlestop campaign to promote the more prevalent of the two rival formats, felt more like a victory lap than a PR offensive.

At least it did to me as I attended the tour’s 11th stop on Friday in Long Island. Blu-ray reps weren’t fretting over their competition, and the atmosphere was more consumer-friendly than cutthroat publicity campaign. No wonder, since, six of the eight major studios have decided to side with Blu-ray (Paramount and Universal being the sole dissenters) and more than 170 companies adopting the format. Not to mention, more of your favorite titles — like Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (pictured) and Cars — will be available only on Blu-ray, while Michael Bay’s Transformers is one of the few dealbreakers HD has in its arsenal.

So, what’s the difference? And what does this format skirmish mean to you? After all, both Blu-ray and HD, viewed on one of those $2,000, 1080p flat-screens, offer jaw-dropping visual clarity. Both formats will have theatersscrambling for higher quality, as evidenced by the widerelease of Beowulf on IMAX and digital projection screens next month. Both Blu-ray and HD are backwards compatible, so I don’t have to chuck the 150 DVDs I already own. And both have a high level of interaction. Get bored watching Cars and you can actually play along with the movie. Want to know about Lightning McQueen and the history of the Ford GT40? Just push a button. If you’ve already spent all your lunch money for a PS3 or XBox 360, then you know about the interactivity afforded by Blu-ray and HD. Play movies, video games, CDs, and access the Internet all on one console — kind of hard not to use the cliché, "something for the whole family."

As a non-tech-geek consumer, the major difference I see is availability. One of the few legs HD really has to stand on is its cheaper price (about 100 bucks), which to a broke post-grad such as myself is a major selling point. But with only two studios backing the HD format, there aren’t that many titles offered. (At least, not in the States, though you can find more HD titles if you’re willing to buy your discs from overseas retailers.) Plus, Toshiba and Microsoft are the only companies offering HD players, the idea being that Microsoft will have some type of computer download compatibility, because, as you may have heard, that’s the way of the future.

Still, I doubt this will be a major revolution like VHS to DVD or cassette to CD. I’d say it’ll be the equivalent of Betamax, Laserdisc, and MiniDisc all falling by the wayside. In the end, though, it’s really up to you, the consumer, which format survives. So, what’s it going to be? Blu-ray or HD? I’m abstaining ’cause my TV is a 20-inch dud — cleaning my screen with Windex is the closest thing I get to high-def.

*Full disclosure: The PR folks for Disney were kind enough to send a carto the EW offices in Manhattan for the hour-long ride to Garden City.(I’m weak and I’ve been humping it on the subway for three straightmonths.) But I promise, despite the free water they gave me, I remainedunbiased and did my HD homework before being bombarded with pro-Blu-raypamphlets.


Comments (53 total) Add your comment
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  • Britt

    I actually just got a PS3 so it is blu-ray for me! Yay! :)

  • Jackie

    Right now, neither. Both sides are constantly making claims they are the “winner” and when you look at the actual numbers, standard DVD is still like 90-something percent of the market because most people don’t feel it’s worth the extra cost and don’t want to get stuck with DVDs or players that will be obsolete once this format war redux is over. Let’s not forget that there are only hundreds of title available in high def. as opposed to tens of thousands in standard def.
    Personally, I see potential in a third format, HD-VMD. It was developed in Europe and while the players are a bit pricey (just under $200 for one on Amazon, which is still better than pretty much any Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player)), what few titles they do have don’t cost much more than regular DVDs. Of course, the title selection is pretty pitiful unless you are a Bollywood fan, and it looks like Blu-Ray and HD-DVD have their hooks in the Hollywood studios. A girl can dream…

  • BrandonK

    We bought an HD DVD player a few months ago. For the sake of the money we spent on it, I’d really prefer that HD overcome Blu-ray. Sigh.

  • Daniel

    Neither. I’m sticking with DVDs.

  • actingup

    I am just furious about this. Ever since I heard about this STUPID FORMAT WAR I stopped buying any DVDs. I refuse to buy a Blu-Ray machine. I already own 2 dvd players AND a dvd recorder. Now I have to buy ANOTHER frickin’ machine in order to see certain movies? No way. I think we the public are the losers in this scenario. And soon the studios because I can’t see the majority of the country running out to buy new machines.
    Not to mention the fact that in a few years we are all going to have to thrown out all our TVs and buy new ones because they will have to be able to receive the high def signals.
    It sure sounds like a clever idea to get us all to spend more money. Just like cell phones and computers seem to just crap out after a few years.

  • Torrence Davis

    There are more than 2 supporters for HD-DVD. Do your research before you post. Paramount, Dreamworks and Universal are the only EXCLUSIVE supporters to HD-DVD. They still have Warner and all the others except for Sony/MGM and Disney I think.

  • nobody

    Obviously LaRue hasn’t the breaking news that Wal-Mart has just dropped the bomb on the Blu-ray mob/oligopoly:
    It’s official. CNN Money and Fortune Magazine confirm on October 25th that Wal-Mart has begun selling Toshiba’s second-generation HD-A2 HD DVD player for $198.
    Wal-Mart spokesperson Melissa O’Brien confirmed the rollback: “We reduced our HD DVD Toshiba player, the generation-two, to $198 earlier in the week.” O’Brien also denied rumors that each Wal-Mart store would stock only 18 units of the Toshiba player, saying: “There are no limited quantities for stores or purchases.”
    Hi-Def Digest reports that the $198 price for Toshiba HD-A2 is currently being offered for in-store purchases only. Wal-Mart’s website still lists the player at $274.$200_HD_DVD_Player/1110

    – – – – – – – – – –
    It’s been long predicted by analysts and observers that whichever hi-def disc player that hits the consumers’ “sweet spot” of $199 and makes its way into Wal-Mart will win the HD format war.

  • anon

    you seems pretty confused. It’s HD DVD, not HD. Blu-ray is technically HD as well. So it’s Blu-ray vs. HD DVD.

  • Strepsi

    Blu-Ray has won — Because it comes in PS3, but mainly because it has a distinctive name. you KNOW what you’re talking about with Blu-Ray (and it sounds cool too) whereas HD-DVD sounds, I don’t know, generic and unsure…

  • Anonymous

    HD DVD right now actually has an edge over BluRay, considering the below $200 player.
    Also, out of HD player sales, Toshiba is actually dominating the market as compared to the multiple players being put out by various BluRay supporters.
    Plus, hasn’t history taught us enough? Anything Sony backs is going down the drain. coughbetamaxcough

  • CDB

    Also, the thing about Transformers being the only big thing HD DVD has to offer is wrong. What about the Bourne Ultimatum? It’s coming out soon and is only available in HD DVD, along with most big television box sets such as Heroes.
    Paramount also just dropped BR to go to HD DVD. That’s saying something.
    Seriously, do your research better. Is this the kind of “research” you are allowed to turn in? I worked at Circuit City for one summer and I know more.

  • Techie 12

    Blu-Ray all the way. Nothing against HD but blu-ray is the format that would last longer. I believe it’s limits will be pushed further then the HD DVD

  • Todd

    If the VHS-Beta war taught us anything, it’s that the format that allows adult videos will be the one that wins. Which gives HD-DVD the edge.

  • Nick

    Stepsi, I don’t know if you have noticed, but PS3 sales are extremely under what they were supposed to be, and thus are nott that large of a factor in the decision. Also I would say HD DVD is not confusing at all, but actually quite obvious, HD is a term very familiar to most people’s vocabulary, at least more familiar than blue-ray.

  • Brian

    I choose Blu-Ray. Come on! Even Michael Bay who has the best selling Transformers on HD DVD knows who will win..ITS BLU-RAY! But I wish BD has Transformers…

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